Monday, March 16, 2009

Sports And Television Monday

As we hinted in our last Twitter update, there's not really much going on media-wise around these parts. Or, if there is, it hasn't made it to our attention.

(Yes, that's a hint that you can E-mail us if you're seeing something we aren't! Consider it the OMW version of those radio "traffic tip lines", though we have no money for the best tip of the month...heck, we have no money, period!)

For the moment, what we have is mostly sports related, along with some television...

SPORTS DANCING: It's men's college basketball tournament time again, and Northeast Ohio is paying a lot more attention than normal.

In addition to the Ohio State Buckeyes' appearance in March Madness*, both the Cleveland State University Vikings and the University of Akron Zips have won their way into the field of 64 (65) this year - the Vikings winning the Horizon League title and the Zips winning the Mid-American Conference title, both with automatic bids to the tournament.

Television-wise, we'll assume that the Vikings' and Zips' games will both air in full on Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19. The station's online events schedule does note the Zips' Thursday night game against Gonzaga from the Portland OR site...and we now hear that the game will indeed be seen at 7:25 PM Eastern time, with a 4:25 PM Pacific time start. (NOTE: That is a correction from an earlier version of this item...we apologize for the confusion!)

At this point, we don't have any idea if WOIO plans to put secondary games in the early rounds on other outlets, like WOIO-DT 19.2 "WeatherNow" or sister MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43.

Radio-wise, we had to dig into our own archives to remember that the Cleveland State Vikings' basketball games air on Salem religion WHKW/1220 "The Word" in Cleveland, along with its apparently-still simulcast partner, Warren's WHKZ/1440. (We'll have to dig into that later, to see if the previously announced sale of WHKZ got off track.) Veteran sportscaster Al Pawlowski (SportsTime Ohio, etc.) handles the Vikings' radio call.

In Akron, we've confirmed that the local call of the University of Akron-Gonzaga game on Thursday will be heard not only on Zips ISP Sports Network flagship WARF/1350 Akron "SportsRadio 1350", but also on the company's rock station, WRQK/106.9 Canton "Rock 106.9".

We're told that no matter how far the Zips go into the tournament, WARF/WRQK will be able to air the local call with Steve French.

You know, OMW reader Steve French, who we hear has been doing the Zips play-by-play since the Nixon Administration, with enough awards to warrant an addition to his palatial home, all the while driving the ratings of WNIR/100.1's morning show through the roof pretty much on his own. Did we mention he was on the WKDD "Waking Crew" show for over a decade? We think he may have won a Nobel Peace Prize in there somewhere.

(Yes, we're kidding about most of that, except the part about the local play-by-play lasting through the tournament. We can't resist tweaking Steve.)

WARF has been full of college basketball play-by-play recently. As a result of its association with college sports radio giant ISP, which runs the Zips network, we've heard various college conference tournament action on 1350 in the past week or two...and the station is also the local carrier of Westwood One's tournament broadcasts.

OMW hears that WARF will bounce around through a heavy schedule of tournament games (of course, outside the locally-aired Zips contest, which will be heard in full and then some).

* - We assume the folks at the NCAA have a mountain of trademarks for the phrase "March Madness". If we've violated any of them here, we'll gladly take down the references if they send us a simple E-mail...

THE DAN PATRICK (TV) SHOW: Syndicated sports radio mouth Dan Patrick shows up four places on the Northeast Ohio radio dial, thanks to his syndication by the Content Factory folks, and his recent addition to the Fox Sports Radio lineup.

He's about to return to TV, in a fashion.

USA Today's Michael Hiestand reports that Patrick's radio show is about to be a television simulcast...on satellite TV:

DirecTV will announce today that this summer it will debut a live TV show based on Dan Patrick's nationally syndicated radio show. The idea, says Patrick, is to offer viewers a look "at how the sausage is made" and offer "warts and all" eavesdropping on his staffers and guests.

Patrick's show airs in Northeast Ohio on two original syndicated affiliates: Clear Channel's WARF in Akron, and Cumulus' WBBW/1240 "ESPN 1240" in Youngstown.

The addition to FSR's lineup brought him an hour clearance on Cleveland daytimer WWGK/1540 "KNR2", as his show replaced an existing FSR program carried by the "little brother" station to WKNR/850 "ESPN 850".

It also brought him a second Akron market affiliate - Media-Com daytimer WJMP/1520 Kent-Akron-Cleveland-London-Tokyo, the Akron market's alleged FSR affiliate.

As we reported earlier, that'll change in early June, when WARF takes (back) the FSR affiliation and becomes (again) Patrick's sole radio home in the Akron market. We hear that WJMP is likely to grab the Sporting News Radio affiliation WARF is leaving behind, though we haven't confirmed that yet.

Until June, we're hearing that WJMP will continue to air Patrick via the FSR lineup...

EARLY DIGITAL MOVE: It's been just under a month since we paid much attention to digital TV, shortly after the original DTV Transition Deadline...which was moved from February 17 to June 12 by Congress.

With only Canton-licensed Multicultural Broadcasting infomercial outlet WOAC/67 pulling the analog plug on the original date in Northeast Ohio, it's been rather quiet, since. But we now know which local station in the Cleveland/Akron (Canton) TV market may be next.

OK, so it's not much more exciting than the infomercial station.

ION Media Networks O&O WVPX/23 Akron has signaled in an Engineering STA its intention to launch the station's digital signal before June 12, in a recent filing with the FCC.

Quoting the technical exhibit attached to that STA request:

WVPX-DT requests an STA to permit operation with 790 kW-DA upon grant of this STA, and prior to June 13, 2009, while current analog stations may still be operating.

This is not a a survey of local station managers conducted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Shaheen Samavati, WVPX was one of two stations that indicated that it may file for early transition before June 12. (The other was Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8.)

Since WVPX does not have a pre-transition digital signal - its RF channel 59 allocation got gummed up in Canadian Coordination Land and never hit the airwaves - it'll have to "flash cut", switching from analog to digital signal transmission directly on channel 23.

The FCC has implemented new rules for stations wishing to make the transition before June 12, starting April 16, and there are even more roadblocks. Broadcasting and Cable and TV Week have more.

Pulling some quotes, this one from the TV Week piece:

The FCC said the network affiliates could switch only if at least one local network station in the market continues to air an analog signal until the national switchover June 12.

From B&C:

As B&C first reported, stations who will lose at least 2% of analog viewers in the move to the slightly different signal contours of digital will have to inform their audiences of that fact.

The FCC also decided that all stations have to include information about the use of antennas as part of their DTV education campaigns, including that viewers may need additional equipment if a station is changing from a VHF signal to a UHF. Stations must also make channel re-scanning part of their educational message.

The trade sites note that non-commercial stations claiming financial hardship can start shutting off analog transmitters as soon as March 27, and that the June 12 transition date won't be tied to the time of 11:59:59 PM....with stations being able to choose what time of day they make the switch.

Since WVPX is not affiliated with one of the major networks, which seems to be one of the FCC's biggest concerns, it'll likely be able to switch by April with little difficulty...


Anonymous said...

WOIO has a big problem up here. It seems that the NCAA schedulers have decided to put the Cleveland State game and the Ohio State game on at the same time. Of course everyone knows that there are lots of Ohio State fans up here in these parts.

In previous years, some stations have shifted the other games to seperate subchannels. As noted by 10TV down in Columbus, CBS has changed the rules (obviously to protect DirecTV). Only one other game can be shifted to a subchannel. While this may solve 19's problem a little bit, it leaves open another question. Can a station broadcast TWO 1080p high definition signals. I know that WKBN has been doing it for a couple of weeks (but they downgrade the CBS signal to 720p and since Fox's signal is already 720p they do two HD broadcasts).

As far as WVPX goes, it is about time, as they dont currently have a digital signal on the air. I expect a formal announcement by tomorrow's deadline. Since every station is required to file something tomorrow, it will be busy for u guys. We appreciate all your hard work.

H. Anthony Wayne said...

Oooooh....tweak Steve French because he doesn't believe in your all-mighty godhood of everything media in Ohio.

Brave. Very brave.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Anthony Wayne? Are you related to Batman? :) (Hey, it's a joke!)

And yes, it is a joke. We're pretty sure Steve can take it.

We share no illusions of "godhood", be it related to media in Ohio or anything else.

We're just having fun here, and we're thrilled Steve thinks enough of us to read us (and talk about OMW on the radio).

He's secure enough in his life and career that he's not taking this seriously. You, apparently, are...

-The Management